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Biochimie. 2002 Sep;84(9):877-88.

Coenzymes as coribozymes.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0347, USA.


Coenzymes are small organic molecules that supply a varied set of reactive groups to protein enzymes, thereby diversifying catalysis beyond the chemistries of amino acid sidechains. As RNA structures begin with a more limited chemical diversity than proteins, it seems likely that RNA enzymes would also use functional groups from other molecules to support a complex RNA world metabolism. In fact, ribonucleotide moieties in many coenzymes have long been thought to be surviving vestiges of covalently bound coenzymes in an RNA world. The idea of coenzyme utilization by ribozymes can be explored by selection-amplification of coenzyme-binding RNAs and coenzyme-assisted ribozymes. Here, we review coenzyme-RNAs, and discuss their possible significance for RNA-mediated metabolism. In summary, a plausible route from prebiotic chemistry to ribozyme biochemistry exists for CoA, and via similar activities, likely exists for all the nucleotidyl coenzymes.

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